How to engage your willpower to change ingrained habits

How to engage your willpower to change ingrained habits

What kinds of ingrained habits?

Coping mechanisms that used to work but now hold you back like…

  • Social anxiety
  • Not being in your body
  • Quickly moving from one thing to another

Some others could be: 

  • Comfort eating
  • Over working
  • Addictions
  • Anything that used to feel good but doesn’t any more and you want to stop doing it but it’s a habit.

Coping mechanisms become habitual.

Habits can become a way of recognising yourself – “I exist because I do this.” Does that make sense?

When you begin to change them questions like, “who will I become?” might arise.

You could journal on who you want to become to counter the anxiety around this:

  • Use details – what kind of days will you have? 
  • Use all your senses to describe what it will be like. 
  • Write about it regularly. 
  • It allows the anxious parts of you to get used to what it will be like.

And then there’s purpose – why do you want to become that person? You could journal on that too.

It might be because: 

  • It will feel better
  • You want to be able to do things that you used to be able to do
  • You want to learn from it and teach other people

I’ll share some of my purposes that have helped me change habits over the years.

  1. In 2012 I wanted to overcome social anxiety.
  2. In 2018 I wanted to be able to feel my feet so I could climb better.
  3. Recently I wanted to enjoy the transition between waking and getting up.

There were brilliant by products to me using my willpower to achieve these things:

  1. I got out of the black hole of depression, anxiety and PTSD and I got a degree that prepared the way for my Master’s in Creative Psychotherapy.
  2. I became more embodied, which allowed me to be more in touch with my feelings and emotions in a mindful way, that allowed me to be more authentic and meet my needs better.
  3. The gentle sensory transition from asleep to awake and getting up that I use somehow allows my creativity to kick in first thing and I find myself writing content that flows quickly and easily.

So how can you use your willpower effectively to change your ingrained habits?

Kindness and curiosity are key.

Trauma does not involve kindness.

So using willpower in ways that are unkind is another form of trauma.

How can you tell?

Unkind – as you use your willpower: 

  • Your teeth might be gritted
  • Your self talk could be: “come on, get on with it!”
  • You might find yourself really having to push to do it.

Kind – as you use your willpower:

  • You feel gentle and relaxed
  • Self-talk could be: “it’s okay for you to –” or “that’s it. You’re doing great.”
  • You’re more in flow and feel curious and you create experiments to see what’s possible for changing your habit.

HOWEVER, if you’re unused to being kind to yourself it might feel odd and that’s okay. 

The more you do it the more normal it becomes.

Imagine yourself as your own best friend and talk to yourself like that.

What do you want to change?

Why do you want to change it?

How will you change it? What experiments will you try?

I’d love to know so feel free to comment or message me!

And if you’d like help with it I offer Therapeutic Coaching where I hold space for you to find your answers within yourself.

My fees are a sliding scale from £45 to £225 per session and what you pay depends on your budget and how you like to use money – some people like to use it as an accountability tool – we can chat about this.

Reach out for your free 30 minute session where we delve into your current situation, what you’d like to have happen, and what might help you get that.

Love, Julia xxx

How climbing falls helped me feel my feet and overcome trauma

My friend, Sioban, and me at the top of a wall at The Reach, Woolwich.

About 5 years ago, I began climbing. I loved it. I’d go to the local bouldering wall and get lost in the movements and challenges of working out the routes. However, I had a couple of falls where I twisted my ankle. When I returned to climbing I felt very afraid, even on ‘easy’ routes. I used my sage to work out what had happened during those falls. There is a guideline in climbing that you need to have 3 points of contact with the wall for balance. What I noticed was when I took my attention from my feet to my hands, the contact between my feet and the holds was loose. That was why I had slipped. I couldn’t feel my feet.

I wondered about not being able to feel my feet. When walking I often stumbled or stamped. It occurred to me that it was a trauma symptom and stemmed from not being in my body. I designed some experiments. The first was a walking activity. When walking I would focus on feeling my feet. It was hard at first because I was still stumbling and stamping. I felt embarrassed. But when my sage was ‘online’ I could just notice what it was like rather than judge it. I began to notice little sensations in my feet – how they felt inside my shoes and as my shoes made contact with the ground I didn’t need to stamp any more. 

Another experiment was to climb the easiest routes available and pay attention to feeling sensations in my feet as I climbed up and down. I would do each route 4 times, just focusing on my feet. Gradually, I began to trust my feet to hold me, even when I was looking at my hands. I didn’t have to use so much energy to keep paying attention to my feet whilst looking elsewhere. I could pay attention to both my feet and my hands. 

I began to experiment with other areas of my body. I wasn’t aware of my glutes at all. So I began paying attention to that part of me whilst walking and climbing, and even whilst rising from a chair. I felt such joy at feeling these sensations in my body. My body – I felt like I owned my body at long last! I resided in it, it was mine, and I loved it!

Embodiment is just one aspect of being in sage and I’m covering so much more in the upcoming 5 day free masterclass in The Art of Self-Compassion. Join us to expand your ease and flow and have better relationships with yourself and everyone else! Click here to register.